- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Funeral arrangements have been set for three slain Pittsburgh police officers, city officials announced Monday.

The bodies of officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo II will lie in state at a downtown municipal building beginning Wednesday afternoon, and a memorial service will be held Thursday at an arena on the University of Pittsburgh Campus.

Richard Poplawski, 23, was wearing a bulletproof vest when he opened fire on the officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday, turning a quiet Pittsburgh street into a battlefield, police said.

The 911 call that brought Sciullo and Mayhle to the home where they were ambushed on Saturday, and where Kelly was later killed during a four-hour siege, was precipitated by a fight between the gunman and his mother over a dog urinating in the house.

Thursday’s memorial will also serve as the funeral service for 41-year-old Officer Eric Kelly, who will be buried immediately afterward.

Separate funeral services are set for Mayhle and Sciullo.

The argument between Margaret and Richard Poplawski escalated to the point that she threatened to kick him out and she called police to do it, according to a 12-page criminal complaint and affidavit filed late Saturday.

When Sciullo and Mayhle arrived, Margaret Poplawski opened the door and told them to come in and take her son, apparently unaware he was standing behind her with a rifle, the affidavit said. Hearing gunshots, she spun around to see her son with the gun and ran to the basement.

The mother told police her son had been stockpiling guns and ammunition “because he believed that as a result of economic collapse, the police were no longer able to protect society,” the affidavit said.

Autopsies show Sciullo, 37, died of wounds to the head and torso. Mayhle, 29, was shot in the head.

A witness awakened by two gunshots told investigators of seeing the gunman standing in the home’s front doorway and firing two to three shots into one officer who was already down. Sciullo was later found dead in the home’s living room, and Mayhle near the front stoop, police said.

Kelly, 41, was killed as he arrived to assist the first two officers. Kelly was in uniform but on his way home when he responded and was gunned down in the street.

Kelly’s radio call for help summoned other officers, including a SWAT team. The ensuing standoff included a gun battle in which police say Richard Poplawski tried to kill other officers.

Poplawski is charged with three counts of criminal homicide and nine counts of attempted homicide _ one each for the eight officers who were shot at in an armored SWAT vehicle, plus a ninth who was shot in the hand as he tried to help Kelly.

A district judge arraigned Poplawski at a hospital. It was not immediately clear if Poplawski had an attorney.

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